Welcome to PHYS 205A

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This is an online course

Instructor Contact Information:

Bret Clark  bclark@cuesta.edu

Office Hours: 


Required Availability:

Although this course's content is fully online, you are required to be available, electronically, for quizzes and tests during the following days and times during the term:

MTR: 9:30-12:20


Welcome to PHYS 205A!  I am excited to be your instructor for this class.  The PHYS 205 course sequence is designed to provide students with a solid fundamental understanding of physics.  Its goal is to motivate students to use science as a means of understanding the world in which they live.  PHYS 205A covers the fundamentals of Newtonian Mechanics.  This includes: Kinematics (the study of motion), Newton’s three laws of motion, Gravity, Energy, Momentum and Collisions, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Vibrations and Waves.  For a detailed description of course outcomes, please refer to the Cuesta College website (www.cuesta.eduLinks to an external site.)The prerequisite for this course is completion of Trigonometry, but more math is always better!

How much time should you expect to spend on this class?

Your weekly time commitment is determined by the term length for the course.  Students taking the course during a standard 18 week semester should plan on twelve hours per week dedicated to the class.  This includes 3 hours per week in lecture and three hours per week in lab/doing lab activities and 6 hours working on problems and preparing for assessments.  Students who take the course during a shorter term should plan on taking the ratio of 18 divided by the shorter term length and multiplying it by the hours to compute the time commitment for non-standard terms.  For example, a six week term requires 36 hours per week dedicated to the class with 9 hours per week in lecture and 9 hours per week in lab/doing lab activities and 18 hours working on problems and preparing for assessments.


Is Distance Learning for You? 

You CAN succeed in an online class, but it does take extra self-motivation and organization.  Before enrolling in a distance learning class, students should make an honest assessment of their level of personal discipline and ability for independent learning style that an online course requires. You will be working on your own and teaching yourself with the help of computer software, internet forum discussion questions, tutorials, and videos. You have to be proficient with and enjoy working with computers. Please take the following exploratory Self-assessment survey Links to an external site. and judge for yourself.

Necessary Computer Equipment/Skills:

You must have a computer, either a PC with a recent version of Windows or a Mac, as well as internet access and e-mail.  You will also need a printer.  You can find specific requirements at the Technical FAQs pageLinks to an external site. You will need an internet connection to complete the online lessons and access the course Canvas.  Computer skills required are downloading and printing documents, using your Cuesta email account, accessing your Canvas account, uploading documents to Canvas, posting discussion questions, and watching videos.  Assistance with basic computer skills are not provided.  You must also have the ability on your computer or phone to scan a document as a pdf (there are free apps for phones).  During the term, you will be required to create graphs and do analysis using Excel.  If you do not have Excel, there are computers in the library with Excel, or you will need to find a computer with Excel that you can use.

Accessing the Course and Early Participation:

The course will be available through Canvas sometime during the week prior to the start date.  An email will be sent to all students with login instructions on the first day of class.  Students must activate their Canvas account and complete assignments that are due during the 1st week of class.  For the summer session, there will be quizzes due on the first day of class.  Failure to do so will result in the student being dropped from the course.  Accommodations will be made for late adds.

Class Participation/Late Work

All students in this class must work through the material at approximately the same pace so that they can help each other and participate in class discussions.  Therefore, it is important to keep up with the material and submit all assignments on time.  Late assignments will be penalized 20% for each day late.  All students are required to start quizzes and exams at the same time and complete them and upload them during their time window.  If you have an illness or other serious issue that keeps you from keeping up with the material, contact me as soon as possible so that I can work with you on any possible accommodations.


I will provide discussion forums for you to discuss the course with your peers as well as with me.  I can be reached via email, which I regularly monitor.  I also will provide virtual office hours via ConferZoom.  There will be a link within the Canvas page that will take you to virtual office hours which will be scheduled once the term begins.  

How to Get Help with Course Material:

I am here to help you learn and enjoy the course material.  If you are having trouble, please contact me early, and often.  Free online tutoring is available at Net TutorLinks to an external site. and in person free tutoring is available at Student Success CentersLinks to an external site. at both the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles campuses.


The content for the course will be delivered through Canvas in Modules.  Modules are designed for the student to complete the material in a specific order.  The first module is an Orientation Module.  Subsequent Modules will contain course content on pages.  The course schedule and approximate assessment dates are contained in the course syllabus.


MATH 229 or MATH 231

Course Description:  

Presents the principles of statics and dynamics of particles and rigid bodies, harmonic motion, fluid mechanics, heat, thermodynamics, wave motion and sound using trigonometry

Required materials:

    • Canvas account (free)
    • Physics, Young, Stadler, 11th ed., Wiley (2018) with WileyPLUS
    • Either a scanner, or access to a scanner, or a scanning app on a smart phone or tablet.  You will need this to scan your quizzes, tests, and labs and upload them as a pdf file into Canvas.  If you are on the Cuesta College campus, you may use the photocopier in the Student Success Center to scan documents and email them to yourself (see any tutor for help).  Some free scanning apps are:
      • For iPhone, try: AdobeScan, Cam Scanner, Genius Scan, JET Scanner, or PDF Photos
      • For Android, try: AdobeScan, Cam Scanner, easyPDF, or Image to PDF
      • Alternatively, you may write directly in the document using a tablet or computer and save as a pdf.
    • Scientific Calculator

Student learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, a student should be able to:

    1. Describe and quantify motion (kinematics), and apply Newton's laws to describe how forces affect motion (mechanics). (E.g. analyze forces acting on an object with a free-body diagram, and determine subsequent motion given initial conditions.)
    2. Describe and apply conservation laws of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum to quantify the initial-to-final evolution of systems of objects. (E.g. determine final state of a system of objects given initial conditions and in-process exchanges, by deciding which relevant objects to include in a system in order to implement appropriate conservation law(s).) 
    3. Describe and quantify different types of oscillations and waves, and the physical principles of these phenomena. (E.g. explain/predict the experience of disturbances of differnt media.) 
    4. Describe and apply the laws of thermodynamics to quantify the initial-to-final evolution of microscopic and macroscopic systems of gases, fluids, and solids. (E.g. determine the final state of a gas/fluid/solid, given initial conditions and in-process exchanges, by implementing appropriate conservation law(s).) 


Homework:  Homework assignments will consist of online homework through the online homework system.  Other types of homework may be assigned.  In addition to the homework problems, extra problems will be provided for students who need more practice.  If you are not able to complete the assigned problems without help (looking at the book or your notes, watching a tutorial, etc.), then you need to do more practice problems until you no longer need assistance. The goal isn’t just to do problems until you get them right; the goal is to do problems until you can’t get them wrong!

Discussion Posts:  Each student is expected to contribute to a minimum of one discussion post per week.  During some weeks, discussion topics will be assigned.  The assigned discussion post will count as the one post for the week.  During weeks when there is not a topic assigned, the student must post either a question on the course content for the week or an answer to another student’s question.

Quizzes: There will be regularly scheduled quizzes.  These quizzes are designed to help you determine if you are ready for the larger assessments (midterm and final exam).  I will drop the lowest quiz, but there are no make-ups.

Midterm Exam:  There will be three mid-term exams, each covering approximately one-third of the course.

Final Exam:  The final exam will be comprehensive.  The format of the final exam will be the same as the midterm exam.  


Homework and Discussion Posts       10 %
Quizzes                                                               20 %
Midterm Exams                                              40 %
Final Exam                                                         20 %
Lab                                                                          10%

Letter Grades (rounded to the nearest whole number):

A            80-100%
B            70-79%
C            60-69%
D            50-59%
F             49% or lower

Plus/Minus grades:   Plus/minus grading will be used in borderline cases, usually based on the final exam score (state law does not allow grades of “C-” at CA Community Colleges). 

Academic Honesty:

The purpose of this course is to improve your mastery of concepts in physics.  If you copy work from other sources (other students, the internet, your friend, etc.) for homework, quizzes or the final exam, this will be detrimental to your understanding of the material and will make it less likely for you to succeed in this course and future courses.  Therefore, cheating will hurt you more than it will help.

Academic dishonesty in any form, including plagiarism, copying, using the internet when instructed not to or allowing another student to copy off of you will not be tolerated.  Do not copy anyone else's work!  This is not learning, it is cheating.  If you violate the academic honesty policy, you may receive a “0” for the assignment AND an equivalent assignment, or an F for the course.  See the Cuesta College CatalogLinks to an external site..

While you are encouraged to study in groups, assignments turned in must represent your own work, which means your own thoughts in your own words. No one learns effectively by merely copying someone else's assignment or using the internet.

Drop/Withdraw Policy

Since participation is important in this course, students must continually participate in order to stay in the class.  Students who continually turn in assignments late, or who miss a significant number of assignments will be dropped if this occurs before the "W" date. If you decide to withdraw, you must do so according to Cuesta’s drop policyLinks to an external site.

Regular and Effective Contact:

Regular and effective contact will be met through threaded discussion forums, announcements to students, email contact, and office hours. I will do my best to respond to questions in less than eight hours.  Assignments will be graded, with comments, within one week. Each student is expected to contribute to a minimum of one discussion post per week (see point distribution above).


Authenticating Student Identity will be conducted using the Learning Management System (Canvas) and the online homework system, which requires students to log into the program using a secure login and password to access. You must use your official Cuesta College email address for the online homework system (like albert_einstein@my.cuesta.edu).

Netiquette and Online Course Participation:

    • Use respectful and professional language in your forum discussions. Respect the learning progress of your peers.
    • Please do not use texting language, lol (SCNR).
    • Use proper capitalization and complete sentences.
    • Avoid ALL CAPS as they come across like YOU'RE SCREAMING.
    • You are expected to read all forum posts, and to make at least 8 posts or responses with specific details in the discussion forums this term. Try to give guidance rather than provide exact answers. Assigned posts do count towards your 8 post minimum.
    • All messages are public, so be professional and courteous when you post.
    • Make your posts and replies specific to a particular problem or issue.
    • Complete sentences and thoughts are mandatory for forum posts.
    • You must log into Canvas at least once per week.

Technical Issues? 

For issues related to accessing Cuesta's Canvas Site, email: support@my.cuesta.edu


Disability Services:

If you have a disability that could affect your learning or participation in this course, please contact DSPS at 546–3148 as soon as possible. They will work with me to provide any necessary accommodations.  If you require accommodations for this course, please take advantages of the services that DSPS provides.  DSPS information can be found at the DSPS websiteLinks to an external site.

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